Jack the Giant Slayer
: The fire sale on fairy-tale adaptations greenlit in the wake of Alice in Wonderland
, and shelved in the wake of the realization that a billion dollars' worth of people going to see a Tim Burton movie does not in fact indicate a bottomless appetite for big-budget fairy tales, continues: after Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters
comes Bryan Singer's Jack and the Beanstalk riff that was, like Hansel
, originally scheduled for a 2012 bow. Jack the Giant Slayer
now occupies a release-date no man's land; Disney's return to Oz
took the early-March Alice
slot next weekend, and Warner Brothers has inexplicably decided to live with beating Disney to theaters by exactly one week, presumably assuming that because their movie technically grabbed the first weekend of March, it will emerge victorious. Or maybe they're just trying to spitefully wing Disney's movie on their way down.
In any event, Bryan Singer's first movie in four-and-a-half years (a career-biggest gap) and last movie before he returns to directing X-Men movies (Days of Future Past drops summer 2014!) feels, sight unseen, like something of a palate cleanser. Singer certainly knows from eschewing flash: his last movie, Valkyrie, is a straight-ahead and effective WWII thriller, sort of the unimaginative counterpoint to Tarantino's feverish, brilliant Inglourious Basterds, and the best thing about his X-Men forays has been their sense of character and understated humor. This makes a big, broad-looking adventure movie look like a significant change-up—from Singer's filmography, anyway, if not the general mode of these lavish all-ages fairy tale spectaculars. But Ewan McGregor was a charming swashbuckler in the Star Wars prequels, Nicholas Hoult was engaging as Beast in X-Men: First Class, and who knows? Maybe Singer's movie will be fun. I wouldn't blame families for going out to see; the only movie with any little-kid appeal released in 2013 has been the WeinsteinToonz (this is my made-up name for low-budget Weinstein Company-released computer animation) production Escape from Planet Earth. And hey, none of these fairy-tale movies have outright flopped: Hansel and Gretel is going to wind up with $55 million or so domestic and well over $150 million worldwide, striking distance of the non-smash Mirror Mirror but also pretty respectable for a movie with far less kid accessibility and far more rumors of disaster.
21 and Over
: Because Project X
wasn't enough of it a knockoff of The Hangover
, which is essentially just a glossier knockoff of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle
and Dude, Where's My Car?
, which are only a few years off from the teenage demo portrayed in the likes of Project X
and 21 and Over
, here's another raunchy comedy about a crazy night where all this shit you just would not believe goes down. I can't wait to find out which of the characters is the one who says outrageous stuff about how bad he wants to fuck and maybe some racist stuff that's all in good fun like that hilarious scene where they say "faggot" in The Hangover
—which of course satirizes that kind of behavior; it certainly doesn't endorse it or make it look fun in any way. I expect similar levels of anarchic satire in 21 and Over
; if I didn't, it would be because I'm easily offended and can't take a joke, right?
The Last Exorcism Part II
: So: The Last Exorcism
is a not-bad little horror movie, notable primarily for an excellent lead performance by Patrick Fabian as a fake preacher who encounters a possibly-real demonic possession and for a pretty good (though ultimately somewhat boilerplate and reductive) use of the found-footage technique. Naturally, The Last Exorcism Part II
jettisons Fabian (whose fate isn't definite, but he did participate in one of those stock and-then-something-comes-at-the-camera-and-it-all-goes-black found-footage endings) and the found-footage angle, so it can go about its business as, presumably, yet another possession/exorcism movie with bendy bodies and screaming and stuff. But it'll all be worth it when its target audience boos whenever it decides to cut to black!
: My main question having watched Phantom
, beyond the obvious confusion over how Ed Harris and even David Duchovny and William Fichtner agreed to appear in such a murky, low-budget, unengaging submarine thriller, is how exactly this stealth indie is sneaking its way onto 2,000 screens this weekend via some non-studio called RCR? At least that's what Box Office Mojo, via their fallible but still invaluable release schedule, claims: a release on par with Dark Skies
or The Last Exorcism Part II
as a movie I had literally never heard of until two weeks ago. The movie is a dud, the kind of nonstarter that you might expect to find sailing direct to DVD, but with a fake veneer of classiness that comes from employing Harris (who does, along with every other actor, his finest normal American accent playing a Cold War-era Russian). I like to imagine it's listed for 2,000 screens because someone at RCR emailed Box Office Mojo to tell them this figure—assuming that this was also how you book screens, just email Box Office Mojo and let them know how many you want.